To reign over earthly kings came very far short of papal ambition. The Popes, like Satan their master, decided to be like the most High God. ‘He as God, sitteth in the temple of God showing himself that he is God.’
The Antichrist claims to be God first in words and then in deeds. Let us listen to what the ‘great mouth’ has spoken of himself and then what his friends have spoken for him.
Note the position he takes. ‘He sitteth in the temple of God.’ This is not the temple at Jerusalem for that was to be destroyed by the Empire whose fall brought Antichrist’s rise. The name ‘temple’ is carried over into the New Testament teaching and indicates either the body of the individual believer, ‘Know ye not that ye are the temple of God,’ I Cor. 3:16 or the whole body of professing Christians, ‘Jesus Christ the chief corner stone; in whom all the building, fitly framed together, groweth into a holy temple in the Lord.’ Eph. 2:20.
The temple in which Antichrist sits is representative of the Christian Church, a church however gone totally apostate. For the prophecy makes it clear that the apostasy precedes the revelation of the Man of Sin. He was indeed to be both the outcome and head of that great apostasy.
Antichrist then, according to this prophecy, would establish himself prominently in the professed Christian Church. This is exactly what the Popes have done. This fact disposes of the theory that the Antichrist will be some atheistical leader or superman politician who in a very brief but terrible career will desolate the world. No, he will work in, by and with the professed Christian Church, howbeit apostate.
Again no one-man Antichrist, whose reign is to last for only three years or seven years can meet the conditions of the Bible prophecies. We have already noted that the key to prophetic interpretations is not any man’s idea. No Scripture is of any private interpretation, or preconceived notion but interpreted by the Word of God itself. We must go by the Word of God only. As in Daniel’s prophecy, Antichrist is a dynasty, a dynasty which wears out the saints so much so that the souls of the martyred dead in heaven cry out, ‘How long?’ The teaching of Christ, let it be noted, emphasises the corporate individuality of both Antichrist and the False Prophet. (See Chapter 17).
The Pope claims to be God.
Pope Innocent III enacted in writing, ‘We may according to the fulness of our power, dispose of the law and dispense above the law. Those whom the Pope of Rome doth separate, it is not a man that separates them but God. For the Pope holdeth place on earth, not simply of a man but of the true God.’ I Book of Gregory 9 Decret. C3.
The Lateran Council, addressing Pope Julius II in an oration delivered by Marcellus states, ‘Take care that we lose not that salvation, that life and breath which thou hast given us, for thou art our shepherd, tou art physician, thou art governor, thou are husbandman, thou finally ART ANOTHER GOD ON EARTH’ Council Edit. Colm. Agrip. 1618.
Pope Nicholas assumed the title of God. His words are:—‘I am all in all and above all, so that God Himself, and I, the Vicar of God, hath both one consistory, and I am able to do almost all that God can do . . . Wherefore, if those things that I do be said not to be done of man, but of God. WHAT CAN YOU MAKE ME BUT GOD? Again, if prelates of the Church be called and counted of Constantine for gods, I then, being above all prelates, seem by this reason to be ABOVE ALL GODS. Wherefore, no marvel if it be in my power to dispense with all things, yea, with the precepts of Christ.’ See Decret. Par Distinct 96 Ch. 7 Edit Lugd. 1661.
Sitting in the temple of God speaking ex-cathedra the Pope claims to have the infallibility of God Himself. This is the daring pitch and blasphemy of Antichrist in keeping with Paul’s prophecy, ‘Shewing himself to be God.’
After his election the Pope is enthroned in the ceremony known as Adoration.
Let us refer—not to any private sources—but to the official ‘Book of Sacred Ceremonies’ of the Church of Rome.
This book, sometimes called ‘Ceremoniale Romanum,’ is written in Latin, and was compiled three hundred and forty years ago, by Marcellus, a Roman Catholic Archbishop, and is dedicated to a Pope, Leo X. Let us turn to that portion of this Volume which describes the first public appearance of the Pope at Rome, on his Election to the Pontificate.
We there read the following order of proceedings: ‘The Pontiff elect is conducted to the Sacrarium, and divested of his ordinary attire, and is clad in Papal Robes.’ The colour of these is then minutely described. Suffice it to say, that five different articles of dress, in which he is then arrayed, are scarlet. Another vest is specified, and this is covered with pearls. His mitre is then mentioned; and this is adorned with gold and precious stones.
Such, then, is the attire in which the Pope is arrayed, and in which he first appears to the World as Pope. In the Book of Revelation we see that scarlet, pearls, gold, and precious stones are thrice specified by St. John, as characterizing the Mysterious Power portrayed by himself.
But we may not pause here. Turn again to the ‘Ceremoniale Romanum.’ The Pontiff elect, arrayed as has been described, is conducted to the Cathedral of Rome, the Basilica, or Church, of St. Peter. He is led to the Altar; he first prostrates himself before it, and prays. Thus he declares the sanctity of the Altar. He kneels at it, and prays before it, as the seat of God.
What a contrast then ensues! We read thus:
‘The Pope rises, and, wearing his mitre, is lifted up by the Cardinals, and is placed by them upon the Altar – to sit there. One of the Bishops kneels, and begins the ‘Te Deum.’ In the meantime the Cardinals kiss the feet and hands and face of the Pope.’
Such is the first appearance of the Pope in the face of the Church and the World.
‘Whatever God does the Pope professes also. Does God require that to Him every knee shall bow? So, too, the Pope: he requires to be worshipped with prostration and kissing. Does God reveal Himself as the ‘only holy?’ So, too, the Pope. He claims to be styled ‘his holiness.’ Is God the ‘only wise?’ So, too, the Pope: he claims to be ‘inerrable.’ Did God plant his throne on the summit of Sinai, and thence promulgate those ten commandments which are the world’s law? So, too, the Pope: he has planted his seat on the seven hills in the character of the world’s supreme lawgiver and judge, and he claims an equal authority and infallibility for all that he is pleased to promulgate ex-cathedra as Jehovah claims for the precepts of the decalogue.
Is it God’s prerogative to pardon sin? The Pope assumes the same great prerogative. He pardons the sins of the living and the dead. Is it God’s prerogative to assign men their eternal destiny? This, too, does the Pope. He pretends to hold the keys that open and shut purgatory, and while he reserves to his followers a sure passport to the realms of paradise, he consigns all outside his church to eternal woe. In fine, does God sit between the Cherubim and receive the homage of His people in His sanctuary? The Pope, seated on the high altar of St. Peter’s while incense is burned before him, and the knee is bent to him, is invoked as the Lord our God. Romanists are accustomed to call the altar, the throne of God, inasmuch as thereon they place the host. The use the Pope finds for it on these occasions, is the not very dignified one of a footstool. ‘He as God sitteth in the temple of God showing himself that he is God.’